Eight provinces currently have warnings in place for temperatures above 44 degree Celsius. Chongqing, a self-administered province near Sichuan, reached a record 44.4 degrees Celsius over the weekend.
In an effort to induce artificial rainfall to help with the drought-like conditions, the government has resorted to cloud seeding by sending airplanes to fire the chemical silver iodide into the clouds to make it rain.
The previous record-breaking heatwave was back in 2013. China sweltered under high temperatures for over 62 days.
However, in 2022, the country is well past the 62-day mark and the scope, and temperatures of the current wave are much higher than 2013. High temperatures are forecast to continue in the Sichuan Basin and large parts of central China until 26 August.
China Suffers Severe Consequences of Drought-Like Conditions
The rising mercury levels have also resulted in a drought-like event and overexerted electricity usage. The situation has become so dire that companies have been ordered to shut down and the country is now rationing its power supplies.
Many provinces are experiencing persistent blackouts and millions of people have been affected by power shortages.
In the city of Dazhou, home to some 5.4 million people, blackouts are lasting up to three hours, according to local media reports.
Factories in the province have been forced to cut back on production or halt work as part of emergency measures to redirect power supplies to households.
Hydropower reservoirs, the main source of power supply in the region, are currently down by as much as half.
Another consequence of the searing heat is the rise in food prices. There are also concerns that the high temperatures could affect food production. Globally, sizzling temperatures have caused a major drop in food production and China could face a similar fate.
Crops over 4,00,000 hectares of land have been damaged due to the severe heat, according to Hubei's Provincial Emergency Management Department.
The drought throughout the Yangtze river basin was adversely affecting drinking water security of rural people and livestock, and the growth of crops, the Ministry of Water Resources mentioned in a notice on Wednesday, 17 August.
China has Resorted to Cloud Seeding as Yangtze River Dries Up in Many Places
On Wednesday, the central province of Hubei became the latest to revel their effort to induce rainfall, by sending airplanes to fire the chemical silver iodide into the clouds.
Cloud seeding has been in practice since the 1940s and China has the biggest programme in the world. It used seeding ahead of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to ensure dry weather for the event, and the technique can also be used to induce snowfall.
The silver iodide rods, usually around the size of a cigarette, are shot into existing clouds to help form ice crystals. The crystals then help the cloud make its moisture content heavier and more likely to be released, thus inducing rain.
Chinese planes are firing rods into the sky to bring more rainfall to its crucial Yangtze River, which has dried up in parts due to the drought.
Several regions on the banks of the Yangtze have launched weather modification programmes, but due to the thin cloud cover, some operations are on standby.